The Summer Night Market
12631 Vulcan Way
With school back in session, the leaves beginning to fall off the trees in my neighborhood, and the slowly shortening daylight hours, I’m reminded that the summer is winding down. Albeit, the warmer temperatures are holding strong this week, so its feeling nice to have our summer season extend even longer this year. And with just two more weekends to go before this year’s rendition of The Summer Night Market in Richmond comes to a close, I thought I’d type up some quick thoughts on my experience this year…
When things such as annual festivals or public gatherings grow over the years due to the success of the original or early years, its both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, its wonderful that a small concept can become something that’s sustainable and has organic growth and continued popularity. More offerings, great number of attractions – all good things from my perspective, especially when something grows from something very small initially.
Flipping to side-B, legal wrangling over control of the event itself, increased costs to support the renting of facilities and land, the need to charge for things such as parking, and of course the most impactful of all, the cost of enjoying the gathering itself going up, are all common negatives that seemingly arise. From what I have uncovered about this particular summertime celebration as well, many of these things hold true and have been experienced.
Okay with that preamble out of the way, here are some quick thoughts on my wanderings around the grounds this year…
– Wow, very crowded. The alleys were all packed with people, some moving, some standing around. A slow flow of movement all around, made more dangerous with all the hands holding various types of food in the vendor alleys, perhaps less a hazard than in the spots where non-edible goods were being sold.
– Greater variety than what I remember from past years in terms of what you could eat. Though several items seemed to be the most popular. The ones that are grilled and sizzle, or simple deep fried, seemed to rise to the top of the charts, when I scanned the darkness at the hands of other market goers, to see what they were indulging in.
– Confirmed, that anything salty, grilled/deep fried, on a stick and eaten standing up, will always taste good. 🙂
– After a few laps, it became a bit of a mall foodcourt like feel. Things seem to blend together, and I got the impression that there were copycats out there, trying perhaps to do what a more popular stand was selling. Not a bad strategy given the lineups at some of them, for those who dislike queuing up, going to another spot that sells pretty much the same thing at the same price but in half the time, has its appeal.
– The crowds were on the younger side, mainly teens and those in their twenties. Not really a place for families, especially those with really young children, despite some play areas. And for those that brought their baby carriages and were trying to navigate through the no-elbow room crowds, I just had to shake my head at their thinking. Not that I’m against parents and strollers, but I am sure had they known, they wouldn’t have ventured into this heavy, densely packed throng of people.
– Parking was kind of a mess. Though finding a place further along River Road was possible. Made for a bit of a walk, but perhaps better than waiting to even get into the paid parking lot right next to the actual grounds.
Overall, a mixed bag for me. I guess the allure has worn off, and despite some tasty treats, the journey and actual experience to take it all in has me unenthusiastic. Since my visit, I wondered to myself would I find enjoyment in going back this year. I haven’t. In future years? Perhaps I’ll skip a year or two like I have recently, just to keep it somehow fresh in my mind.
Would love to hear from any readers as to their own experiences at past or this year’s version of the night market…